Since the renaissance, societies across the world have been progressive on many fronts like culture, religion, social customs etc. Many concepts are considered progressive and progressiveness is considered good. Once such concept is Individualism. Societies are now increasingly becoming individualistic. Individual freedom is of utmost importance. Like everything, individualism also has pros and cons. But right now, I am not going into those details.
One offshoot of individualism is personal freedom. Freedom to choose what you think is good for you. This kind of freedom starts with legal age to drink alcohol, eat tobacco, to marry etc. There is a notion that after certain age, humans develop certain kind of intelligence, certain physical features so he/she is capable of thinking and doing what is good for him/her. It is all together different debate about the validity of this notion.
Another such concept is freedom of expression/speech and right to offend. In good old days, kids were taught to respect elders. Now they are taught such concepts like right to offend. Personally, I believe there should be FoE/FoS and right to offend. Conceptually, there is nothing inherently bad about it. But as with every other good provisions, people misuse it to spread venom in society and get away with it.
Let me come to some specifics. Recently in India, a comedian named Tanmay Bhat made a short video using Snapchat and insulted two icons: Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. An uproar followed soon after on social and electronic media from both sides. Those who opposes Tanmay are mostly from the so called right wing parties with orthodox mindset. And those who oppose Tanmay-basher are mostly with so called liberal mindset and progressive values.
I am of the opinion that anybody should be allowed to rant whatever he/she wants. I do believe in FoE/FoS. But still I don’t want to identify myself with people who have ‘liberal’ mindset for two reasons:
First, they recall such freedoms selectively. Few months ago, a person named Kamlesh Tiwari expressed his views on Prophet Mohammed. Those views have offended Muslim community. There was a large scale violent protest against Kamlesh Tiwari. The community wants to hang Kamlesh Tiwari for such a ‘crime’. Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested and now is in jail for hate speech. From that time till now, not a single ‘liberal’ has said anything in favor of him or his freedom of speech. The same liberals who are now defending Tanmay (Tanmay has made very derogatory remarks on Ganeshji in the past) have not spoken a single word in favor of Kamlesh Tiwari’s right to free speech.
Second, they glorify the person who was exercising free speech right to abuse others. Legally, the person has every right to express his/her views. But when you abuse these rights to mock someone, it is not acceptable socially or morally. Using profanity and derogatory remarks for others regardless of their ability, political affinity or ideology are not good things.
In an article defending Tanmay Bhat’s act, they have written All India Bakc***. Surely, they can spell the whole word instead of putting ‘*’. There would be nothing illegal in that, but still they refrain from doing so. Because even they realize that there should be some decency. Whatever you can do legally does not mean what you are doing is acceptable.
No, I will not file an FIR or campaign to ban the video, but definitely people like Tanmay are not my heroes. I register my protest against such act.